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Praise for regional press as Local Newspaper Week kicks off

The role of the regional press has been praised by Conservative Party leader David Cameron and sporting hero Sir Steve Redgrave, at the start of Local Newspaper Week.

This year’s event has a sporting theme, and five-time Olympic gold medal rower Sir Steve Redgrave has told of the support he received from local newspapers at the start of his career.

In a specially written article, he said – in contrast to his retirement – his early training and competition progress had been followed by just a handful of dedicated local journalists.

He said: “It is easy to forget, having achieved your dreams, about those people who showed faith in you at the start right through to the end.

“You don’t often get a chance to thank the people in the background, taking the photographs, spotting your talent and writing about your success.

“It is quite likely that some of the people who watched me strain as I crossed the line in Sydney 2000, probably even some of the people who offered me financial support over the years, first saw a photograph of me or read an article in a local newspaper that inspired them to follow my career with interest and ultimately share in my Olympic success.

“Whether you like to read about yourself or not, after a hard morning training or a tough competition, as a young athlete, seeing your photograph in the press helps you to realise the scale of your achievements, that you had actually made, not just read, the day’s news!”

David Cameron has also spoken out about the role of the regional press, congratulating the industry on its success.

He said: “The regional press is the most trusted and believed of all media – in some cases they are trusted more than what people watch on television.

“I think this is because local papers write about the issues that affect people on a daily basis and, generally, adopt a constructive approach to reporting events.

“Local papers often form part of the community, share its values and so cannot afford to be intrusive or sensational.

“The regional press has also been successful because it deals with local concerns. The answers to many of the challenges we face today are to be found through local action.”

This year’s Local Newspaper Week starts today and runs until May 14.

It is organised by the Newspaper Society to give newspapers across the country the chance to celebrate their community role, and promote themselves to readers and advertisers.

Hundreds of titles are expected to take part, running competitions inviting people to be a sports journalist or photographer for the day, giving readers an insight into daily newsroom life, or looking back at their campaigning efforts of the past year.

Many will also link up with SportsAid, the national charity for sports people that provides grants to young athletes across the UK, to launch fundraising campaigns in support of their local athletes.

Lynne Anderson, communications director of the Newspaper Society, said: “Local Newspaper Week is an important part of the regional press calendar, because it is the one time when the industry gets the chance to remind readers about the great work it does throughout the year.

“Regional newspapers are read by 83.6 per cent of UK adults, and are an essential contributor to regional identity.”

For the second year running, the Week has linked up with The National Lottery, which has invested more than £3bn into sport at every level in the UK since launching in 1994.

  • The full articles written by David Cameron and Sir Steve Redgrave have been distributed to all regional newspaper editors for use during Local Newspaper Week.